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A Roadmap towards resilience for the UK's rail industry

Embedding climate adaptation into the UK's rail industry future strategy through our decision systems mapping platform and adaptation journey.

The UK rail industry manages infrastructure for UK’s railway, with a portfolio that covers approximately 20,000 miles of track; 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts; and thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. The rail network spans the England, Scotland and Wales, providing a service for 990 million passenger journeys in 2022 and 17 billion net tonne kilometres of freight moved in 2022, that underpins daily life and economic growth. Network Rail spends over £10Bn annually on operating, maintaining and renewing this network. 

The UK rail industry, as a collective, needed to ensure that it had effectively considered the changing climate risks over the next 30 years, to cover the life of the investments they had developed. They needed to address long-term changing climate risks and the issues that needed to be factored across their 30-year plans. Climate Sense helped develop guidelines for the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR), to guide investments planned during Control Period 7 (from 2024 until 2029) and beyond, on how to accommodate the impacts of climate change in a timely and cost-efficient fashion. 

Climate Sense approach

The UK Rail Industry has engaged with 80 stakeholders from across all types of organisations in the rail sector to develop an industry-wide adaptation to climate change roadmap. This roadmap makes optimum use of existing capabilities within the sector while addressing any capability gaps.  

To achieve such an ambitious goal at scale and at pace, the UK’s Rail Safety and Standards Board [RSSB] used a bespoke industry-specific version of the online Capacity Diagnosis and Development tool [CaDD] developed by Climate Sense, to measure the existing and required levels of capability in the organisations of each of the 80 stakeholders. Our approach looked to:

  • Understand the maturity of the UK rail industry in terms of climate change resilience.

  • Improve understanding and collaboration across the industry and with stakeholders Enable measurement of performance over time.

  • Drive continuous performance improvement against the ‘Prepared for a Changing Climate’ SRS Flagship Goal.

This approach is still producing tailored action plans for each individual organisation, developing their capability by building plans of action upon their existing strengths.  


These individual action plans are to be used to collectively determine where capacity was strong across the industry, and where addressing any capability gaps could provide optimum development outcomes that achieve climate-informed decision-making. Industry-wide interdependencies were identified through an online exercise that mapped the key climate change impacted decisions in the sector. Existing capabilities were then targeted towards priority decisions in a way that grows capacity within the individual organisations as well as collectively across the entire industry.  

All this learning informed the content of the roadmap. Ensuring that the decisions being made in the UK rail sector today are able to consider current and future climate change over relevant timespans.  This innovative new approach is designed to be rapid, dynamic, and replicable.  Repeated annually, it will be used to monitor progress, update plans of action and re-target capabilities to optimise impact.  Climate-informed decisions can now be made in the sector while the capability of individual organisations, and the industry as a whole, continues to develop collectively. In this way, the whole sector can become agile and responsive to new experiences, technologies, and information as our uncertain future unfolds.  

This approach can be used by any sector anywhere in the world. 

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